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ENGLISH 120C: CALIFORNIA: A SENSE OF PLACE

Description: ¿A place belongs forever to whoever claims it hardest,¿ writes Joan Didion, ¿remembers it most obsessively, wrenches it from itself, shapes it, renders it, loves it so radically that he remakes it in his image.¿ From the Gold Rush to Hollywood to Silicon Valley, Yosemite to the Salton Sea, in this course we¿ll encounter a series of writers and artists whose work is set in California, or participates in its imagining, and throughout consider how culture and a sense of place are closely related. How does a novel, photograph, or film conjure community or landscape? When we think of California, whose stories are included, and whose are left out? Possible texts: works by Mary Austin, Mike Davis, Rebecca Solnit, John Steinbeck, and Nathanael West; the films Sunset Boulevard,Clueless,and There Will Be Blood; and the art of Carlton Watkins, Dorothea Lange, Richard Misrach, Martín Ramírez, Wayne Thiebaud, and Japanese Americans incarcerated during World War II. We¿ll visit New Almaden, a quicksilver mine in the 19thcentury, later Superfund Site, now a museum and popular trail.*For the final paper, students will research a place in California of their choice. *Or a Mission mural walk, or the Oakland Museum of California.
Terms: Sum | Units: 3-5 | UG Reqs: WAY-A-II
Instructors: Bolten, R. (PI)

ENGLISH 121C: Superheroes, Supercops: American Police Power

Description: America has an obsession with superheroes and a problem with police--the last decade has been dominated by both blockbuster superhero films and negotiations over police power. This course will take an intersectional, interdisciplinary, and critical look at models of police power as they appear in superhero/supercop texts, including film, thinkpieces, novels for young readers, and comics, as well as a look at the historic foundations of American policing and contemporary police theory. What do superheroes teach us about police? And what do police teach us about superheroes? How can we read cultural production around this topic in a useful way? What constitutes propaganda, and what constitutes useful debate?
Last offered: Summer 2019 | UG Reqs: WAY-A-II, WAY-SI

ENGLISH 122C: Medieval Fantasy Literature

Description: Trolls, ogres, elves, dwarves, dragons, draugar, wizards, witches, and fairies¿these creatures and characters, so familiar to modern readers, moviegoers, and gamers, have an ancient pedigree stretching back into the darkness of prehistoric Europe, and have enthralled human imagination for just as long. This course visits their first emergence into written literary record during the medieval period, from the earliest Dark Age mythological folklore of Britain and Scandinavia to the courtly and whimsical romance of the high and late middle ages. What significance and meaning did medieval writers from different times and places see in magic and monsters; what superstitions and beliefs converged in their efforts to represent things ¿from the other side,¿ and what compelled them to do so? We will address such questions by reading the literature against the social, cultural, and religious contexts that shaped medieval life and artistic production; our goal is to discover how thes more »
Description: Trolls, ogres, elves, dwarves, dragons, draugar, wizards, witches, and fairies¿these creatures and characters, so familiar to modern readers, moviegoers, and gamers, have an ancient pedigree stretching back into the darkness of prehistoric Europe, and have enthralled human imagination for just as long. This course visits their first emergence into written literary record during the medieval period, from the earliest Dark Age mythological folklore of Britain and Scandinavia to the courtly and whimsical romance of the high and late middle ages. What significance and meaning did medieval writers from different times and places see in magic and monsters; what superstitions and beliefs converged in their efforts to represent things ¿from the other side,¿ and what compelled them to do so? We will address such questions by reading the literature against the social, cultural, and religious contexts that shaped medieval life and artistic production; our goal is to discover how these authors used the fantastic to moralize and theologize, to confront and explain alterity, and to thrill their readers. Finally we will turn to the modern era with J. R. R. Tolkien¿s The Fellowship of the Ring and Kazuo Ishiguro¿s The Buried Giant, reflecting on how professional and popular literary medievalism has cultivated the tropes of medieval fantasy to produce works which mediate between an imagined history, sublime fabrication, and contemporary concerns.
Terms: Sum | Units: 3-5 | UG Reqs: WAY-A-II
Instructors: Ashton, M. (PI)

ENGLISH 124: The American West (AMSTUD 124A, ARTHIST 152, HISTORY 151, POLISCI 124A)

The American West is characterized by frontier mythology, vast distances, marked aridity, and unique political and economic characteristics. This course integrates several disciplinary perspectives into a comprehensive examination of Western North America: its history, physical geography, climate, literature, art, film, institutions, politics, demography, economy, and continuing policy challenges. Students examine themes fundamental to understanding the region: time, space, water, peoples, and boom and bust cycles.
Terms: Spr | Units: 5 | UG Reqs: GER:DB-Hum, GER:EC-AmerCul, WAY-A-II, WAY-SI

ENGLISH 126B: The Nineteenth Century Novel

A set of major works of art produced at the peak of the novel's centrality as a cultural form: Austen's Emma, Bronte's Wuthering Heights, Eliot's Middlemarch, Dickens's Great Expectations, Stevenson's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Hardy's Tess of the d'Urbervilles. The paradoxes of work, consciousness and the organization of narrative experience, habit and attention. Urban experience, shifting forms of individualism, ways of knowing other persons. Binary and concentric structures, happiness and moral action, arrays of characters.
Last offered: Spring 2019 | UG Reqs: GER:DB-Hum, WAY-A-II

ENGLISH 130: Sex and the Novel (FEMGEN 130S)

How do novels represent sexual life? This course reads texts from the eighteenth century to the present day, and considers how novelists represent the discombobulating effects of desire in fictional prose. Authors may include: S. Richardson, N. Hawthorne, J. Austen, E. Brontë, G. Gissing, H. James, D.H. Lawrence, J. Joyce, V. Nabokov, J. Baldwin, A. Hollinghurst and Z. Smith.
Last offered: Spring 2017 | UG Reqs: WAY-A-II, WAY-ED

ENGLISH 131B: American Travel Films, 1925-2013

For more than a century, cars and movies have occupied a romantic place in the American imagination, as vehicles that can take us someplace new and engines for our fantasies of mobility, freedom and personal expression. Perhaps this is one reason why the road movie is one of the most enduring subgenres of twentieth-century film. In this class, we'll watch and discuss ten celebrated American travel films, one for each decade starting from Buster Keaton's silent Go West (1925) and arriving at Alexander Payne's wry anti-road film Nebraska (2013). In between we'll travel by car, bus, motorcycle and even on foot across America and beyond, searching for answers to the motivating questions for this course: what is the attraction of the open road, and how is the romance of its call embraced and challenged by the multiple genres of these films, the concerns of the decades in which they were produced, and the limits they impose on the idea of unrestricted travel, individual growth and independen more »
For more than a century, cars and movies have occupied a romantic place in the American imagination, as vehicles that can take us someplace new and engines for our fantasies of mobility, freedom and personal expression. Perhaps this is one reason why the road movie is one of the most enduring subgenres of twentieth-century film. In this class, we'll watch and discuss ten celebrated American travel films, one for each decade starting from Buster Keaton's silent Go West (1925) and arriving at Alexander Payne's wry anti-road film Nebraska (2013). In between we'll travel by car, bus, motorcycle and even on foot across America and beyond, searching for answers to the motivating questions for this course: what is the attraction of the open road, and how is the romance of its call embraced and challenged by the multiple genres of these films, the concerns of the decades in which they were produced, and the limits they impose on the idea of unrestricted travel, individual growth and independence. A secondary goal of this class is to familiarize students with the language and concepts of film art and criticism. To that end, we'll pair our films with readings from Bordwell, Thompson and Smith's influential textbook Film Art: an Introduction. Students will therefore not only be immersed in the themes specific to this course, but will also learn how to analyze and speak about film as a medium.
Last offered: Spring 2019 | UG Reqs: WAY-A-II

ENGLISH 131C: A.I.: Artificial Intelligence in Fiction

From self-driving cars to bots that alter democratic elections, artificial intelligence is growing increasingly powerful and prevalent in our everyday lives. Fiction has long been speculating about the techno-utopia¿and catastrophe¿that A.I. could usher in. Indeed, fiction itself presents us with a kind of A.I. in the many characters that speak and think in its pages. So what constitutes an ¿intelligence¿ within literature or technology? In either field, is it ever possible to overcome the problem of other minds? Is there an ultimate boundary that demarcates bodies from machines? This course will begin with Mary Shelley¿s Frankenstein (1818) and Edgar Allan Poe¿s ¿Maelzel¿s Chess Player¿ (1836), then proceed through works such as Samuel Butler¿s Erewhon (1872), Isaac Asimov¿s I, Robot (1950), Stanley Kubrick¿s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), and Stanford lecturer Scott Hutchins¿s A Working Theory of Love (2012), including a possible visit from Hutchins. Throughout, we will be asking ourselves what makes someone¿or something¿a person in our world today.
Last offered: Summer 2018 | UG Reqs: WAY-A-II

ENGLISH 132C: Cosmopolitan Crime: Global Detective Fiction

Detective fiction is one of the most popular genres in the world. It is also, interestingly, one of the most international genres as well. In this course, we¿ll look at a selection of globally oriented detective stories, from the Sherlock Holmes to The Tunnel, and explore the ways in which detective fiction participates in the global imagination. How do these detective stories represent the tension between community and cultural difference? How do conceptions of cultural or racial ¿otherness¿ influence views of suspicion, guilt or innocence? How far does detective fiction fulfill a cosmopolitan ideal of transnational justice, and in what ways does it fall short? As we analyze the conventions of the detective genre and consider how it examines issues faced by our increasingly globalized community¿including immigration, imperialism, identity politics, and terrorism¿we¿ll ask larger questions about the nature of community, morality, law, and justice across national and cultural boundaries.
Last offered: Summer 2018 | UG Reqs: WAY-A-II, WAY-ED

ENGLISH 133C: King Arthur's Court: Medieval and Modern

Thomas Malory's Arthurian epic Le Morte D'Arthur (The Death of Arthur) is often thought of as the last medieval English text. As a prose narrative describing the gradual annihilation of King Arthur's legendary court at Camelot and the disintegration of the medieval courtly values that once held it together, the book seems to be a fitting swan song for what we think of as the English middle ages. In this course students will read Malory's Middle English legend of King Arthur in its historical and material context, developing an appreciation for its literary style and cultivating an awareness of the medieval traditions and technologies that shaped the author's work. We will then read T. H. White's The Once and Future King, a 20th century Arthurian novel based on Le Morte D'Arthur, and students will compare White's interpretation and adaptation to their own encounter with Malory's text. This course examines how authors and readers confront and imagine the medieval, and how the quest to capture the elusive idea of the dark ages illuminates the preoccupations of the present.
Last offered: Summer 2018 | UG Reqs: WAY-A-II
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